Austin News


What’s all the Fuss about PLAYING COLUMBINE?

Fantastic Fest is next week. We're all ramping up for the festival, which is the most fun thing of the year. It's so exciting we can barely sleep. And we can't hardly wait either.

That's one of the reasons we're starting a little bit early this year, with two special screenings of one of our favorite docs of the festival, PLAYING COLUMBINE. This year, for the first time in our festival's history, we're having a videogame component called Fantastic Arcade. During the first week of the fest, The Highball ballroom will be transformed into an old-school arcade where the most fascinating new independent games will be retrofitted into vintage arcade consoles set to free-play.

One of the games selected for our Fantastic Arcade programming is Super Columbine Massacre RPG!, an avant-garde 8-bit game that tries to grapple with the horror that befell the Columbine High School back in 1999. The game has been understandably controversial, spawning a number of empassioned responses from both pro- and anti-videogame voices. The game also inspired an enlightening documentary, called PLAYING COLUMBINE, about the game, about the controversy, and about our culture's attitude toward gaming in general.

The film is great, posing questions about the nature of generational shifts and about art and its ability to be political and ethical. It also questions our understanding about what videogames are and should be; it asks, among many other questions, "Why do videogames have to be fun?"

It also tells a fascinating story of an independent gamemaker and the struggles he went through in trying to make a game with a social message. Among other things, his game was accepted and then kicked out of the Slamdance Guerilla Gamemaker Competition for political reasons, spawning widespread controversy and leading to half of the games in competition and one sponsor to withdraw in protest.

We're proud to include Super Columbine Massacre RPG! in our Fantastic Arcade line-up, giving it the credit and respect as the thought-provoking and meaningful game that it is. And we're also proud to bring this film to the Ritz, where it will shine some light on those terrible games all those blasted young people play.

These screenings are Free for FF and FA badgeholders, $5 general admission. Check out PLAYING COLUMBINE at the Ritz this Saturday at 4 and Sunday at 3:45.


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